My 91-year-old father died recently in a hospice setting. When it was evident that he was going to die, my sisters and I made arrangements to move our mother, who has Alzheimer’s, to a care facility. She and my father were able to live together until then because of the wonderful work of a paid caregiver and my sister’s attention. The director of the facility advised us against telling Mom that Dad had died, as she wouldn’t remember and would grieve anew each time she was told. We were advised to say something like, “He’s at the store and will be right back.” We understood the rationale, but it still seemed wrong to deceive Mom.
The day after Dad died, we told her and stressed that he had died peacefully and that we were there. When she asked me the next day where he was, I said that he was “resting with Jesus,” an expression familiar to her. Oddly, she has not asked about him since. Had she done so, would it have been respectful of her remaining dignity and of their 68-year marriage to repeatedly lie to her?
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